AmCham celebrates SG50 with a special report, Reflections: Perspectives from the American Business Community. Grounded in our SG50 survey of all members and a series of interviews with prominent business leaders, Reflections also describes AmCham members’ major contributions to Singapore, capturing how American companies have helped shape the development of Singapore to date and providing insights into what they see on the horizon.
American firms have been present in Singapore for more than a century. The growth of the size and scope of their operations has mirrored the upward trajectory of the Singapore economy. With the Singapore government’s active efforts to attract foreign investment, the American business presence in Singapore grew rapidly after 1965.
From then until now, American companies have invested in their workforces, providing education, upskilling, and leadership development. They have contributed to the communities in which they live and work, including through individual corporate social responsibility programs and through participation in the U.S. Embassy-AmCham Singapore hosted Corporate Community Day, the largest single-day volunteer event in the nation.
Our members indicate that Singapore’s greatest advantages are the ease of conducting business, stable political environment, sound infrastructure, and favorable tax rates. These, coupled with its strategic location in the center of the fast-growing ASEAN region, make Singapore an attractive investment destination. The top three factors business leaders cite as potential challenges to continued growth in the next decade are the cost of doing business, availability of local talent to fill leadership positions, and rising competition from other economies in the region.
The United States is the largest source of foreign direct investment in Singapore and AmCham members employ tens of thousands of Singaporeans. Looking ahead, six out of ten respondents expect that their companies will increase their investment in Singapore. Two-thirds anticipate that their workforce in Singapore will expand over the next decade. AmCham member companies welcome further cooperation with the government of Singapore and the local community to take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
To view the full report, click on the image below.
Selected Insights from the Interviews in Reflections
“Now you have ASEAN, Chinese, and Indian companies coming here and wanting to use Singapore as a launch pad to create global companies.” -Lay Lim Teo, Senior Managing Director – Singapore & ASEAN, Accenture
“Singapore’s location and the ease of doing business were strategic considerations when setting up our regional headquarters and distribution center here and continue to be compelling. The government is stable, accessible, and listens to our input. Also, simply put, business works here.” -Jeffrey Hardee, Executive Director, Government & Corporate Affairs, Asia-Pacific and Singapore Country Manager, Caterpillar
“What’s exciting about Singapore is that the government actually benchmarks itself with the competition, just like what a business owner should do, thinking about whether they are competitive and how they should close the gap, or maintain a positive gap.” –Mark Nelson, President of International Products, Downstream & Chemicals, Chevron
“The trends we talk about, globalization, urbanization, digitization, they are all very compelling. All the wealth and innovation tend to gather in cities, and for Singapore, that will only accelerate.” –Michael Zink, Ex-Head of ASEAN and Citi Country Officer, Singapore, Citi
“We are especially proud of the innovations born here, including our Heaven and Earth tea line, which was developed from our understanding of local tastes.” -Iain McLaughlin, President, ASEAN Business Unit, Coca-Cola
“Cognita won the first Request for Information for foreign schools by the Singapore government. We designed and built Stamford American International School, which opened in August 2009 and now has over 2,400 students from two years old in Nursery to High School.” -Brian Rogove, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific, Cognita
“Singapore has a good pool of talent across all segments and the lifestyle offered by Singapore tends to attract top talent. Policy changes in other countries could pose challenges for Singapore. However, it may be some time for these countries to match Singapore’s total package.” -Hsing Ho, Group Managing Director – ASEAN, Dupont
“If I reflect back on the last 50 years, as we grew together with Singapore, I’m most proud about our investment in people, both in our employees and also, the Singapore community whose lives we have touched through our community investments and volunteerism efforts.” –Gan Seow Kee, Chairman and Managing Director, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific
“We talk about ASEAN and all of the possibilities we create, and that all looks good on paper, but these markets are so specific. The area is so diverse, and it actually needs to have a different approach market to market.” -Stefan Jacoby, GM Executive Vice President and President, GM International, General Motors
“If a business has a good idea, the Singapore government actually funds and helps them get a head start. It’s unique in that sense, Singapore is run like a company. So, people who are incentivized with such programs also think like a company and this seeds an entrepreneurial spirit.” -Ng Tian Chong, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, & Hong Kong, Hewlett-Packard
“In our SMART nation journey ahead, whether it’s transportation, telecommunications or mobility data, we are fusing all of this data to create insights to manage crises and strategic responses. It’s a very exciting place to be.” -Janet Ang, Vice-President, Systems of Engagement & Smarter Cities, IBM
“Although our parent company is headquartered in America, we have made great effort to become a local company. Our procurement practices promote the creation and growth of many home-grown firms. In 2014, for example, we awarded 90%, or more than S$720 million, of our procurement contracts to Singapore-based companies.” -George Tanasijevich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marina Bay Sands
“Others have not had quite the success of getting the talent that we have, and it could be the nature of the industry.” -Dave Hoffmann, President of Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (APMEA), McDonald’s
“Our belief and our mission is centered on enabling people and organizations to realize their full potential. Our focus is on really helping organizations and individuals achieve more, be more.” -Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Singapore, Microsoft
“Singapore has a unique position in Asia. It combines all the diversity and excitement of this fast-paced and exciting region with a strong economy, first class infrastructure, and political stability. As an investor, those are the things that give me confidence.” -Tim Cofer, Executive Vice President and President of Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (EEMEA), Mondelēz International
“We have over 400 R&D employees, and again this is where partnership with the Singapore government is strong. We partner with A*STAR and are able to leverage on the brightest minds and talent in research and development who work in Singapore.” -Sam Kim, Vice President, ASEAN & Asia Development Markets, Procter & Gamble
“Starbucks is a people business, and we are delivering the Starbucks experience everyday with more than 1,000 partners on the floor. So for us, what’s most important is that we are constantly thinking about how to develop those people so they can become leaders, not only in the company, but also in their families and communities.” -Jane Lau, Managing Director, Singapore, Starbucks
“The Pacific region is the fastest growing, so this is where business opportunities are highest.” -Laurence Chin, Country Manager Singapore & Offline Sales, United Airlines
“In my opinion, Singapore will continue to drive leadership in multilateral relations, enabling companies like UTC to go beyond the next 50 years in Singapore.” -Bala Nadarajah, President, Southeast Asia, United Technologies Corporation
“Visa is especially excited about the future of digital payments in Singapore. We also see Singapore as an important test bed for innovation in the future and want to help the nation realize its vision of becoming a regional leader in innovation.” -Ooi Huey Tyng, Country Manager, Singapore & Brunei, Visa